14. The Driver (1978)
The Driver (Ryan O’Neal) plays a getaway driver with moral scruples. He hates guns and the guys that wilfully use them. Unfortunately for The Driver he has troubles in the form of The Detective (Bruce Dern), who is hot on his tail. When The Detective hires a captured armed robber to snare The Driver into a bank job, we get an insight into the obsession built in order to catch his ‘white whale’.
With thrilling car chases and minimalist cinematography, this underrated action-noir is up there with the most iconic films from the 70’s.
13. Rebecca (1940)
‘Rebecca’ presents the master of psychological drama, Alfred Hitchcock. This gothic tale is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Daphne de Maurier. Starring Laurence Olivier as the broken widower Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine as the weak, naïve young woman who is to become only referred to as Mrs de Winter.
After a chance meeting in Monte Carlo, Olivier and Fontaine quickly fall in love and are married. The young girl now receiving the title of Mrs de Winter moves into her husband’s home and is greeted by her now servants and the domineering housekeeper, Mrs Danvers.
With Mrs de Winter unsure of the whereabouts of her husband, she becomes increasingly concerned regarding his perceived fascination with his deceased ex-wife, Rebecca. The fact that the former’s bedroom is now kept preserved, only increases her suspicions and as constant reminders are becoming apparent, we see the shocking truth finally unravelled in yet another suspenseful, haunting ending from Hitchcock.
Both Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine give impeccable performances and with Alfred Hitchcock at the helm, this much lauded classic is rightly considered a timeless masterpiece.
12. The Road (2009)
In this bleak vision of a post-apocalyptic future, John Hillcoat brings us Viggo Mortensen as ‘Papa’, who is trying to bring his son to the East coast of the US in search of warmer climes and a better life.
They face a struggle and many dangers on the road, as people have become desperate and turned on each other to survive.
The bleak vision is interspersed with a shining light of hope ‘Papas’ innocent son brings with him.
Viggo Mortensen excellently plays a desperate Father trying to do best for his son in a world with no future. Great direction from John Hillcoat brings us in to this believable and bleak world.
11. Bad Lieutenant (1992)
Harvey Keitel expertly plays ‘The Lieutenant’, the cop trying to investigate the rape of a young nun whilst simultaneously battling his own demons, including drug and gambling addiction.
The film opens with an illustration of how irresponsible and corrupt The Lieutenant actually is and the more we witness, the more harrowing things become. Bad Lieutenant almost becomes a character study of Keitel as we observe his erratic and out of control behaviour. His rollercoaster of emotions eventually leading to him begging for forgiveness for his sins in possibly the most moving, emotionally charged scene in the movie.
Director Abel Ferrara’s raw, nihilistic portrayal is intense, engrossing and extremely sombre yet leaves you wanting to feel a hint of sympathy for a man besieged with deviance.
Notice: not to be confused with the 2009 film of the same name starring Nicolas Cage.
10. Versus (2000)
Possibly the least known on this list but certainly one that packs a punch. Tak Sakaguchi plays Prisoner KSC2-303. After escaping from prison, Prisoner and a fellow escapee meet up with a gang of Yakuza in a forest that contains the 444th of 666 portholes that lead to ‘the other side’.
Filmed on a low budget (reportedly $10,000), Versus contains action from start to finish. With violence, gore, zombies, samurai and romance this certainly is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Whilst Versus may not be to everyone’s taste, it’s worth a watch for something that you’re likely to never see anywhere else and if zombies fighting Yakuza is your thing then look no further.
9. Hero (2002)
Zhang Yimou brings us a stunning visual feast in the retelling of the ancient story of Jing Ke’s assassination attempt of King Qin in 227 BC. Jet Li stars as the nameless protagonist who meets Qin to tell him of how he has killed the king’s previous would-be assassins.
The choreography and cinematography of these battles is quite astonishing and worth watching the film for alone. This is a highly regarded film by both critics and audiences alike; a must watch.
8. Kill Bill Vol 1 (2003)
‘The Bride’, played by Uma Thurman, is an ex assassin who wakes from a 4 year coma to discover her former colleagues have sabotaged her wedding, killed her friends and family and she is no longer with her unborn child. She now plans to use her opportunity to track each member down and exact her revenge.
Director Quentin Tarantino uses Kill Bill as a homage to several sub genres of film such as spaghetti western, martial arts and revenge. With plenty of action and gore, Kill Bill is up there with the most iconic of Samurai films and equally impressive is the swordsmanship of ‘The Bride’.
Beautifully filmed with extraordinary cinematography, Kill Bill vol 1 produces a typical Tarantino adrenaline pumping, bloody kung Fu classic.